In the November issue, Justin Raimondo characterizes Rand Paul as weak-kneed, neocon-appeasing, and spineless (“Who Hates Trump?,” Between the Lines).  I’m not sure why Mr. Raimondo does this; however, he does make one observation about Donald Trump that I think is important.  He states that Trump “may be . . . a demagogue who will bring the whole rotten system down.”

Mr. Raimondo makes his sarcastic observations about American politics from a position that keeps him deliberately “isolated from the fray.”  I guess we can assume that he would not sully himself by actively supporting any candidate of any party, though he will cheer Mr. Trump “from the sidelines.”

Mr. Raimondo can remain on his lofty libertarian perch and make his observations virtually unhampered in this rotten system so long as there still remains within it a politically active segment that values at least a modicum of civilized discourse.

When his decidedly unlofty countrymen elect a blustering demagogue who seems to hate the same people Mr. Raimondo hates, it’s very unlikely that the resultant system will be any less rotten or any more libertarian than the one he refuses to participate in.

At present, Mr. Raimondo may remain disengaged and free to voice his hatreds.  A future demagogic regime, however, is unlikely to allow him that privilege.

        —Wilma Gustinich
via email

Mr. Raimondo Replies:

Mrs. Gustinich may be unaware of my previous columns on Rand Paul.  Those columns make it clear that I was once one of his biggest supporters.  My turnaround was the result of his many turnarounds: his endorsement of a bigger “defense” budget; his refusal to endorse the Iran deal; his endorsement of U.S. intervention in Syria, albeit in a less intrusive manner than that of his Republican rivals.  This reversal of previously held positions occurred, not coincidentally, after the broadcast of a series of ads attacking his anti-interventionist views—ads financed by neoconservative “dark money.”

Another noncoincidence: Soon after he started appeasing the War Party, his poll numbers fell dramatically.  From a high of some 15 percent, he is now polling between 1 and 3 percent.

Such are the wages of cowardice.

Rand Paul’s campaign has been directed—and ruined—by advisors who have trimmed his sails at every opportunity.  And this in a year when voters are looking for authenticity, rather than the usual platitudinous posturing.

I do not support Donald Trump’s candidacy—however, that doesn’t prevent me from thoroughly enjoying it.  To see him prove every know-it-all pundit wrong, to listen to him defy the strictures of political correctness and rise in the polls as a result, is a pleasure I refuse to deny myself.  I fully agree that Trump in the White House won’t bring us any closer to a free society—indeed, it may take us very far afield from that state.  Yet to blame my “lofty” stance for that possibility is hardly fair, given the choices we are presented with.

Mrs. Gustinich is very much mistaken if she thinks I am “deliberately isolated from the fray.”  I would very much like to be in the midst of the fray: Unfortunately, I have been deprived of that opportunity by a candidate who has chosen to pursue a “safe”—and losing—strategy.  It is a very great tragedy, but one that, unfortunately, we have to deal with as best we can.  Libertarians, and all those who sympathize with the once-promising “liberty movement,” can profit from this by learning the lesson of what happens when our candidates embrace opportunism in the mistaken belief that they can achieve short-term gains by sacrificing their principles.  In the case of Rand Paul, even the short-term gains he and his advisors envisioned failed to materialize—and the long-term goal was thrown overboard for nothing.